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Barnstorm

Newbie looking for reality check on British war bikes, Norton WD16H etc.

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I am currently restoring a James ML, much thanks to many threads on this forum.

 

While researching the ML I have found several articles claiming that the Norton 16H (WD16H) is an 'affordable' war bike, that can be had on the used market for $5000-$7,000 (U.S).

 

I assume this is true only in Europe, and I would have to find someone willing to ship and incur shipping expenses.

 

So my novice questions are:

 

1. Is this a true accurate representation of the going price for these bikes?

 

2. Are there any other similar war bikes in this price range?

 

3. Any advice or gotcha's on locating and buying a WD16H?

 

4. Is the process of getting a bike shipped to the U.S a complete nightmare?

 

I don't have $5-7k on hand just yet, but I hope to in a few months after my ML has been finished. The thought of having a war bike has me very intrigued, as what I have been used to here in the U.S., are Harleys and Indian war bikes that cost more than my house is worth.

 

Thank you for your input.

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Regarding your questions:-

1) in GB£'s 4000-5000 would probably buy you a usable 16H without all the correct WD parts in place, you'd probably need up to £8000 for a much nicer and correctly restored bike.

2) for some reason the 16H is out numbered by the BSA WM20 by probably something like 20-1 and there are far more of these already in the US. Maybe some 16H's in Canada as large numbers were supplied to the Canadians.

3) start with a look on http://www.milweb.net/ or a shout on http://www.wdbsa.nl/ and http://www.wdnorton.nl/index.htm Both sites well worth looking at anyway.

4) No idea! I've only shipped the other way to UK and that was bad enough!

 

Ron

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Adding to what Ron has said, a few years back I had a look round at buying a Norton to run with my Matchless and soon found that good Nortons are much harder to find than a good Matchless, BSA or even Ariel..........as Ron says, fewer survivors. My conclusions were as follows........The Norton name is attractive but the 16h is a very old design and inferior technically to other British WW2 motorcycles...........although they have their following. Parts are relatively hard to get and it was a very long running design pre war so you have a very high chance of spending your money on a real mongrel that would be expensive and hard to put right. I bought a very nice original Ariel instead. And that would be my recommendation .......forget the marque.......locate a good original and complete bike from someone you trust whether it's Norton, AMC, BSA, RE or Ariel. Your money would buy you any of those in an easy project state, ie something that needs a re-restore or straightforward fixes, but is worth doing.

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Nortons are relatively expensive. They were always a small manufacturer with sales based on racing successes (even the side valves). They are very rugged machines which is why they came out so well in the military comparison tests of the late 1930s. The one-piece Norton frames, forks and hubs are made of decent quality steels and some other factories skimped in these areas.

 

The last 16H Nortons were sold off in about 1957, whereas the last of the M20s to be disposed of reached dealers during the early 1970s by which time motorcycling was becoming a leisure activity and the bikes were so old-fashioned that they were mainly being bought by those who liked them for what they were. Side-valves in the UK during the 1950s were a favourite of the daily-riding sidecar man and the bikes were simply ridden into the ground with a chair attached. Worn-out 16H engines are quite common in the UK but the rolling chassis long-since scrapped.

 

Added to this, that the 16H shared many parts with the sportier pre-war Nortons so it's not surprising that many were broken for spares. Norton gearboxes for instance were shared by everything from the 16H to the OHC Internationals and even the forks fit some of the camshaft models. I wouldn't agree that parts are hard to find, unless you're a complete rivet-counter but off the shelf New Old Stock is drying up.

 

BSA and Matchless owners are fond of saying that the Norton was 'technically inferior' but this isn't always a bad thing and the sidevalve was chosen for its simplicity....Nortons made OHV and OHC machines too ! BSA M20 gearboxes are far more fiddly to set up and the gear driven magneto, whilst being technically superior to Norton's chain brings with it gear meshing problems and wear to the casings. The Norton is also spared Matchless's piss-potical dynamo drive arrangement...and Nortons steer like a pre-war sports bike.

 

Ariels are probably under-valued, as perhaps are Triumphs but be aware that very many 3HW Triumphs were sent to the Far East. I would say that you should avoid at all costs, any bike which has lived its life in either the Middle- or Far-East. There will be bodges that you can hardy imagine !

 

Royal Enfields are perhaps the lowest-priced in the UK but to be honest, apart from the early WD/C they weren't really used as

front-line motorcycles.

 

Decent M20s turn up fairly often in the USA. At least one dealer imported containers full direct from the British Army during the late 1960s. Those that avoided being bobbed or chopped seem to be quite unmolested, although they will feature quite a lot of post-war ancillaries as a consequence of their use through the 1950s and 1960s.

 

I ended up with a Norton as I've always had Nortons and it found me, really. I enjoy it's old-fashioned feel. If I had no such marque loyalty then I'd agree with the advice not to narrow the field down unnecessarily.

 

Ron's advice to post on the M20 and 16h forums is very sound. The world of ex-WD motorcycles is a friendly one and the best advice is not to rush things and to build up connections. Put the word out and see what comes along.

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Thank you for all for your responses!

 

I am still researching the information you have given me, no new questions just yet.

 

Thanks!

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As far as I can see, the contracts for 16H's pretty well ceased in Jan 45 and the relevantly small numbers ordered would probably soon have been dispatched from the factory. I don't know how soon they restarted civy production? I guess they would have been forward thinking enough to get back into it straight away.

 

However, you have to be careful of 'first registration dates' as that would appear on the log book on release from military service. So you could have a 1940 ex WD bike with a 1950/60 registration date.

 

We always work from actual frame and engine numbers, and not from any paperwork...... and good pictures are always preferable.

 

Ron

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The greatest risk is bitsas as pretty well all Norton side-valve engines will fit the WD frame. Norton actually commenced civilian production late in 1945 but they were all catalogued as 1946 model year. They have the enclosed valve engine and engine & frame numbers in a new series - prefixed 'A' (for 1946) and '2' for the 16H

 

No-one who knows the subject could mix up a 1945 WD16H with post-war civilian machine.

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I've owned many M20s and Matchless models, but nowadays am happy with my 16H Norton (fast and light for a 500cc sidevalve that handles very well) and my Ariel W/NG 350 that again is slightly unusual, runs and handles very well............these, apart from a brace of WW2 Airborne Lightweights including James ML and Royal Enfield Flying Flea for my stable today...........a pretty good balance methinks..........:D

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This could well be an option;

 

http://www.dutch-lion-motorbikes.com/nl/motorfietsen/new-arrival-norton-16h-year-1945-ex-world-war-2

 

Many original parts on this bike and the ones that are incorrect aren't unfindable.

Patrick is well experienced in international shipments and custom regulations. And there's always room for negotiations..

 

Good luck!

 

Regards,

Sven

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Has anyone here done business with Dutch Lion?

 

I contacted them about payment methods and they only do Bank Transfer, no VISA or PayPal.

 

Bank Transfers are thought of as a bit dodgy here in the states, so I want to make sure they have a good reputation.

 

This could well be an option;

 

http://www.dutch-lion-motorbikes.com/nl/motorfietsen/new-arrival-norton-16h-year-1945-ex-world-war-2

 

Many original parts on this bike and the ones that are incorrect aren't unfindable.

Patrick is well experienced in international shipments and custom regulations. And there's always room for negotiations..

 

Good luck!

 

Regards,

Sven

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Me and a friend bought a couple of bikes from them some years ago, and another friend bought 2-3 bikes from them last year. All these bikes were collected from them by van.......I think they've been around too long to be naughty. Ron

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Me and a friend bought a couple of bikes from them some years ago, and another friend bought 2-3 bikes from them last year. All these bikes were collected from them by van.......I think they've been around too long to be naughty. Ron

 

Thank you!

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Bank transfers are fairly common within the eurozone as they are free of charge and in Continental Europe, credit card use is probably less than in the US or UK and the merchant commission higher so traders don't really like it.

 

This particular trader is clearly not a fly-by-night although I find many of his descriptions to be creative to say the least...The big disadvantage of a bank transfer of course is that there is no protection and if your payment were to co-incide with a business going into receivership then it would be the devils own job to get anything back as you'd be right down the list behind the taxman and the banks.

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Patrick has been a trader for many years. You don't have to be afraid that there will be any confusion about payments etc. I would however strongly recommend to view a bike before you buy it.

 

Good luck!

 

Sven

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Barnstorm ..Appreciate that you are not in the US and as such viewing may be impractical , if you can not see the bike in the flesh I would ensure you get a good series of photos so that you can compare the bike with photos of a bike in full military trim , also get the frame and engine number and check they are both wartime ..A book like British forces motorcycles 1924 45 is a good investment .

 

if in doubt share the photos with the forum ..The eagle eyes of the HMVF are very good at spotting non standard parts .

 

Get a video of the bike running ..Stationery and moving and ask questions ..I would now always ask for the condition of the petrol tank ..internally . plus any repairs .

 

I seem to spend most weekends rebuilding classic cars or bikes ..so be aware that they are 70 -75 plus years old and from my perspective in a state of collapse ....does not mean i don't love em ..I am always amazed that they run so well ...Just that they can be high maintenance ...

 

Jenkinov

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